By Joan Qazi, Sustainable Wenatchee board secretary
In early June, my 2005 Prius died. The brakes’ computer system failed and was going to cost more than the car was worth to replace. My favorite radio station was willing to take it as is. This left me with a couple of options for getting to where I need to go—work, the gym, errands, and visiting family and friends. I could drive our very old gas guzzler, I could take the bus (thanks to the free Link Pass through my employer WVC), I could walk or I could ride my bicycle. Trying to live more sustainably, I ruled out the gas guzzler. While I highly recommend Link, walking to my closest bus stop was about the same distance as walking to work. The logical choice was to become a bicycle commuter. If I was going to workout at the gym or swim at the pool, it only made sense to warm up by bicycling there.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those real bicyclists who have the clip-in pedals and Tour de France clothing. Plus, I am no longer in my 20s, or 30s, or even my 40s. But this summer has helped me to redefine myself (in part) as a bicycle commuter. I ride my hybrid bicycle (mix between road and mountain bike) to work, to meetings, to friends’ houses, to the gym, and to errands like the post office. Living uphill from almost everywhere that I go, I am less likely to ride to my weekly grocery run or to pick up my CSA and carry multiple items home. Another challenge has been the heat (and sometimes smoky air) which requires a renewed commitment to planning. Yet, there are many benefits to bicycling in the Wenatchee area. One of my favorites is that the loop trail connects to so many places and once you are on it, you don’t have to worry about vehicle traffic. Do you know about the Wenatchee Valley Bike Map produced by Chelan Douglas Transportation Council and the Bike Wenatchee Valley group? Funded by an Our Valley, Our Future grant, the bike map is a great resource to help bicycle commuters to get around. You can even load your bike onto the front of the Link bus to travel further.
I want to call out a couple of my bicycle inspirations, including my Danish friend Christine Jacobsen who team-taught a Natural Resources course with me at WVC and bicycle commuted from Leavenworth (bike-bus-bike) in a skirt and looked fantastic. Also, my friend Carolyn Bugert who lives even further uphill than I do, but also truly lives her values so bicycles almost everywhere. Then, there’s Rich Colson who by leaving his car at home this summer and bicycling to work has displaced 250 miles worth of greenhouse gas pollution already. If we want to live more sustainably, than we must ‘walk the walk’ and not just ‘talk the talk’ which may mean hopping on a bike.